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I eat pizza constantly and have noticed that one of the most annoying pizza properties is cheese sliding. You take a bite and all the cheese is dragged off and often swings down and burns your chin with hot tomato sauce.

I have noticed this effect with home-made, frozen and delivery pizzas and the effect is not always consistent. Sometimes my frozen pizza has sticky cheese and sometimes it slides off despite being the same product prepared in what would appear to be the same way. The same can be true for delivery pizzas where even two identical pizzas ordered together may not act the same way.

What causes the dreaded cheese slide and what measures can be taken to prevent it?

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I imagine this is due to the physical characteristics of a given pizza slice: if the dough mounds up just so and the piece of mushroom is placed just so, they physically hold the cheese in place, while on the next slice the pepper happens to be skin-side-down and thus helps the cheese go sliding away. There are just too many variables to effectively prevent this, so the only remedy is as moscafj says: wait for the pizza to cool off, so that even if you get slidy cheese, it won't cause physical injury. (Clearly, using a fork and knife is not an acceptable solution for most people.) –  Marti Oct 15 '13 at 0:14
    
@Marti I don't think you need any theories about toppings doing random things to explain this; it happens (and doesn't happen) with plain cheese pizza. –  Jefromi Oct 15 '13 at 4:18
    
Rivets, you need more rivets! –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 15 '13 at 18:34

7 Answers 7

Let it cool a bit. Then eat. Added bonus: You don't sear the roof of your mouth.

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So is it simply that hot cheese is stickier? My experience would suggest that while cold (refrigerated) pizza never slides, even room temperature pizza may behave in this way, and even extremely hot cheese may stick properly. So while it would appear that temperature is a factor, there must be more to the story. –  zeel Oct 14 '13 at 23:25
    
No science to back this up, but I notice fresh out of the oven...cheese slides off...big mess...burned mouth. Maybe a combo of heat and steam buildup between sauce and cheese? –  moscafj Oct 14 '13 at 23:36
    
plus...no time for some moisture to absorb into crust? Creating a slippery layer of steam and moisture?.....worthy of testing! –  moscafj Oct 15 '13 at 0:07

I think it is a combination of things:

  1. Using too much sauce so that it becomes slippery
  2. Not enough cheese was added near the crust where it bonds the cheese with the pizza.
  3. Too much cheese where the cheese is heavy enough that it slides off.
  4. Sometimes toppings that end up under the cheese make the cheese slide off.

Not to link to unreliable sources but Reddit actually has a pretty good discussion thread about this.

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Too little cheese? I'd think that too much cheese would cause this; the cheese will stick to itself and resist stretching and breaking if there's enough of it. –  Jefromi Oct 15 '13 at 4:19
    
@Jefromi I think that's true too but I was talking about near the crust where the cheese melts and then cools down so it sticks to the crust. Of course if there is too much cheese it would also be too heavy. I added yours in. –  aug Oct 15 '13 at 4:21

I had this same problem when making my own pizzas, and it bugged me a lot. I work at papa john's and I was trying to figure out why my home pizzas had dry "hardened" melted cheese. It would all pull off in one bite, and now I shall share what I have learned.

its not just about quantity of sauce. at PJ's, we often use too much sauce or someone will order extra sauce. Usually, we add more than we are supposed to because we think we are making the customer happy. The cheese on these pizzas does not usually slide off. Unless:

If you order a pizza with tomatoes or pineapples, we often do not have time to fully drain the ingredients. All this extra juice adds water to the crust and sauce. And herein lies the problem.

Our sauce is very thick compared to a cheap pasta sauce from walmart. When I make sauce at home, I take a can of delmonte garlic and onion pasta sauce (99 cents) and add another pasta sauce to it. The Del Monte is too sweet but i like the flavor. So I get another can of something less sweet. I kept getting inconsistent results unless I used less sauce, as you all pointed out. But the amount of sauce is not the problem. Its the wetness of the sauce, and the wetness of the dough. Also, you need whole milk mozzerella, better to shred it yourself.

I add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the sauce and reduce it. The sauce will be thick enough when the oil no longer separates. It should be "pulpy"... not like chunks of vegetable matter, but it should look grainy and uneven... When the sauce is thick enough, the oil will incorporate into the sauce almost magically. If you still see a sheen, reduce more. of course, if you add too much oil it will never incorporate.

There are storebought sauces that are the right thickness, but they taste terrible because there's usually a strong but stale tomato and herbal flavor. The flavor changes the more its cooked and I guess when it sits in a bottle after being cooked down I just don't like the flavor. I add oregano at the very end because I like the aromatic spicyness of it. That all cooks off when reducing the pot for an hour.

Try drier crusts. Instead of a 1:1 ratio of flour to water (by volume), try something closer to 3:1. You might booger it up but just play with it.

Don't think that preshredded cheese isn't the problem because it might be. The whole milk blocks of mozzerella are very moist. If it doesn't feel like taffy don't buy it. You shouldn't have dry little pieces of cheese. This will cause the cheese to harden on the top and it adhere to itself and pull off when you bite into it.

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All my life, I had been making pizza in the order: crust, tomato sauce, toppings, grated cheese. I even worked in a bistro which served pizzas to customers, and it was done that way too. Until one day, I decided to make homemade pizza together with a friend, and to my horror, he assembled it in the order: crust, tomato sauce, cheese, toppings. After some research, it turned out that this method is also very widespread.

So, if you have a problem with the cheese sliding off, try making pizzas with the cheese below the toppings. It might stick to the crust better. I am not sure that it will work, but it's probably worth a try.

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To my horror! My world will never be the same again! +1 –  Jolenealaska Oct 15 '13 at 10:24
    
And then there's the styles of pizza where the sauce goes on above the cheese. (but this generally done for places with really hot ovens (eg, coal fired), hotter than you're not going to get at home) –  Joe Oct 16 '13 at 3:52
    
I worked at a pizza place once; sauce, cheese, toppings. The toppings, especially raw meat, needed the dry heat to crisp up nicely. If it was under the cheese, I imagine it would steam it instead. Whatever works, but that is the order I do it. Just don't use too much sauce and the cheese should adhere to the crust. Or bear your mouth blisters with pride... –  JSM Jun 6 '14 at 23:09
  • Too much sauce: you should be able to see the dough through the sauce. It will thicken as it cooks. Too much sauce, and it will prevent the cheese from sticking to the crust.
  • Too much cheese: remember it will melt and spread. If you lay it on too thickly, it will congeal into a thick, rubbery layer that slides off instead of a gooey, stretchy coating that adheres the toppings to the crust.
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Swamp Yankee? That has GOT to be an American nickname. Yet you espouse moderation? TRAITOR! –  Jolenealaska Oct 15 '13 at 11:45
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@Jolenealaska - Rhode Island and CT are serious about their pizza. It's not the grease-frisbees of Nu Yawk or the pastry-crust casseroles of Chicargo. Pizza needs moderation. And calamari wid 'nanna peppas an' gawlick brad an' stuffed clams an' a pitcha a' Narragansett, an' we'll takes it awl ta go. Like I said. Moderation. –  RI Swamp Yankee Oct 15 '13 at 11:51
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Yeah well, reindeer sausage and moose meat make for yummy pies too. :) –  Jolenealaska Oct 15 '13 at 11:57

While a consistent thin layer of sauce is more common, I've found that splashing the sauce on the crust with limited spreading with the back of a spoon leaves areas of dough with no sauce which does two things for you:

  • Adheres the cheese to the pizza
  • Provides a variable taste and texture - some areas of no sauce, some with little, and some with lots, adding variety and enjoyment to the meal
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If you're happy with the flavour and texture except for the sliding, it could mostly be a question of Physics -- that is, the shape of the pizza tends to allow it to droop, and therefore the toppings can fall off.

If you hold the pizza appropriately, this should be reduced to some extent.

This is a great video about the math behind this idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGl3_92KW7I

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